The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, founded by the late Hollywood actor of "Superman" fame, hailed Monday's decision by President Barack Obama to lift federal funding limits for embryonic stem cell research.
"With a stroke of his pen, President Obama acknowledged the will of the majority of Americans and harnessed the power of the federal government to move research forward," the group said in a statement.
Advertisement"By removing politics from science, President Obama has freed researchers to explore these remarkable stem cells, learn from them and possibly develop effective therapies using them."
The late actor, who lost the use of his arms and legs in a 1995 horse riding accident, became an outspoken champion of cutting edge research to find a cure for spinal injuries and neurological ailments. Reeve died of heart failure in 2004, while his wife Dana died of lung cancer in 2006.
The foundation's laudatory remarks were echoed around the US medical, scientific and research communities.
Dalton Dietrich, scientific director of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in Florida, said the announced lifting of restrictions means that "now we're actually going to be able to ... get funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to actually solve all these problems."
Another researcher, Joshua Hare of the University of Miami's Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, said the announcement could pave the way for significant medical advances to cure diseases that until now have been incurable.
"What's so important about the lifting of this ban right now is that we will be more scientifically free to look at all different kinds of cells, and compare cells with each other so our scientific opportunity is much, much greater now," he said.
In 2001 then president George W. Bush barred federal funding from supporting work on new lines of stem cells derived from human embryos.
Addressing an audience Monday of US lawmakers, scientists including three Nobel laureates and religious leaders, Obama said his move to unleash research on stem cells would be "restoring scientific integrity to government decision making."
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